Vox Pop: What do consumers know & think about botanical supplements?

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There’s a lot of distrust of botanical supplements. And even among those that buy and take them, consumers still ask for more evidence and stricter regulation.

Lining the southern part of Cermak Road, an arterial street in Chicago’s Chinatown, are a handful of stores brimming with little bottles of botanical supplements. “Ginseng, Tea, Herbs,” are what most of these stores choose to highlight in English in the Latin alphabet, somewhere under or around their store’s Chinese or Vietnamese name.

Herbal supplements are on the rise with a 7.% sales increase, the American Botanical Council reported. At least, in some parts of the nation. Chinatown’s herbal product stores were mostly empty from shoppers at 1pm on a Tuesday, and the occasional tourist would stop in front to snap a picture. “I buy them, but I don’t need them,” one passer-by told NutraIngredients-USA as she was on her way to lunch with a friend. Her companion said that she takes vitamins and horsetail, an herbal supplement.

The mission of the day was to get tidbits from random people on the street, an attempt to put a finger on the pulse of how botanical supplements are perceived in public consciousness.

After several hours soliciting responses from people in Chicago’s Millennium Park and Chinatown (16 people total volunteered five minutes of their time for this person-on-the-street interview), the verdict was that there is a lot of distrust in botanical and herbal supplements. Many didn’t even know what they were.

“I don’t believe in them, I think they’re pretty bad for you especially if you take more than you’re supposed to,” one respondent said.

When asked if dietary supplements should be regulated the same way drugs are (without specifying how the FDA differentiates its regulation between the two), most respondents said that botanical supplements should go through stricter scrutiny.

NutraIngredients-USA’s Botanicals Forum

Experts from Nature’s Way, the American Botanical Council, Herbalist & Alchemist, and GNC will discuss the challenges and opportunities in the botanicals section in NutraIngredients-USA’s Botanical Forum on September 29. The event is free to attend. For more details and to register, please click HERE.

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